Skip to main content

Of Tiger Tolkien and Sam Alexis

An explanation for the nomenclature, we are told by the Woods camp, is coming. Exactly when, will be up to Tiger and Elin, the proud parents of Sam Alexis Woods, their newborn daughter.
Until that time, everybody will have to wait and wonder at the significance of the first name, Sam, and the middle name, Alexis.
Meanwhile, strictly by coincidence we assume because there was no mention of Woods in the story, The Wall Street Journal ran a long piece in its Friday editions with the headline The Baby-Name Business.
Among other things, the WSJ reported there have been 80 baby-name books published in just the last three years. More than 100 web sites exist for the purpose of helping parents name their children.
There are even baby-name consultants who charge up to $350 for a package that can include three half-hour phone calls. In Sweden and Denmark the government reserves the right to reject baby-names officials think might subject the child to ridicule. Names turned down by Big Brother in Sweden include Veranda, Ikea and Metallica., according to WSJ, draws up to 600,000 visitors a day.
No way of knowing at the moment if Tiger and Elin consulted anybody outside of family and friends before settling on Sam Alexis. The only safe assumption is, if they did, they were advised not to name the baby Phil.
Who knew baby-naming was a cottage industry of such size and volume? And who, for that matter, knew people were paying such close attention to the selection of the name of the first born child of the No. 1 golfer in the world?
The following is the text from an E-mail I received from a woman named Stephanie Simmons, who claims to have an insight into why Sam and why Alexis. Part of me wants to dismiss her theory out of hand. Part of me was fascinated reading her E-mail. And part of me was convinced I had to share her message with the other loyal readers of this column. There are, after all, a large majority of readers who cant ever get enough Tiger Woods in this space.
The E-Mail from Ms. Simmons:
You are probably sick of hearing from me about now, but I wanted to share this theory on the name of Tigers baby, and I actually got the idea from Tiger himself.
On Thursdays press conference (at Oakmont), I heard Tiger say something that was oddly worded. The question involved golf and making the cut, and Tiger said something to the effect that its only golf and not the end of all things. That immediately caught my ear. No, not because Tiger was saying to the world of rabid golfers that there was something much more important than golf, but it was the expression. I was watching the conference with my mother, a retired school teacher, and my daughter, the recently graduated junior golfer. I thought to myself it was odd that he said that, and my mother commented, Tiger must be an avid reader. I said, You caught that, too?! Tiger must be a Tolkien fan.
Specifically, The Lord of the Rings. The end of all things is what Frodo says to his gardener and dear friend after the destruction of The Ring on Mount Doom, when it appears that the two will not escape the erupting volcano. Sitting on a fractured piece of rock, surrounded by creeping lava and noxious fumes, the two Hobbits discuss briefly the Shire they left behind and fought to save, and who they would have married had they survived the trek. Frodo, gasping for air, turns to his friend, Sam, and says, Im glad to be with you Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things. Its a famous line, made more famous by the recent films. Many people dont know that director Peter Jackson almost cast the role of Sam as female, rather than the male Harfoot Hobbit. When I heard him say that, I said aloud.the babys name is Sam!!! My mother immediately agreed. My daughter chimed in that it would be weird if he said that by accident or coincidence.
Now, I thought for sure that meant Baby Woods was a boy, not a girl.but here she is!!!! J. R. R. Tolkien was once asked who the greatest hero of the tales was in his opinion. He answered that there were many: Frodo, Faramir, Gandalf, Aragorn, Eowyn.but by far the most humble, noble of heart was Sam. I agree.
I am not the only person who noticed this comment. On Saturday at a concession stand, near the practice range, I overheard two men talking about it. I took my daughter over to see Tiger practicing (he was about to come out in about five minutes) and the men were there again, still talking about it. One asked aloud why he thought Tiger mentioned that line. Several people started discussing why they thought he mentioned it. The general consensus was that he was doing some introspection before the birth of his child. My daughter and I just nodded..
..Alexis is a strong, victorious name as well. If history (Alexander and Alexandria) and Tolkien literature have been the inspiration, he wouldnt be the first to name his child after a Tolkien character. Sam is a great name, boy or girl. But note, her name is not is Sam. Sam is the noblest of heroes. Good name.
So there you have it. Sure, its got a little Twilight Zone feel to it. But remember, Johnny Miller recently talked about a woman at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont who insisted, every day, that he was going to win the championship. He didnt know the woman and he didnt know why she had singled him out. But he did win.
So if any of this is true, Oakmont appears to be something of a spawning ground for golf mythology.
For my part, I am not ready to make the leap that the name of the Woods baby is derived from Tolkiens lore. For that matter, I dont know Tolkien from Tolstoy when it comes to literature recall.
Heres what I do know:
First, The Wall Street Journal thinks enough of baby-naming to devote enough space in its pages for a full-blown feature. And second, if it does come to pass that Tiger and Elin reveal a connection between Sam Alexis and Tolkiens writings, I will not be surprised.
Or maybe well learn they just decided they were going to name their first child after Sam Snead.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt